Feeding Wet Forages: Considerations for Sheep

During the 2020 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium, OSU’s new Extension Beef Cattle Field Specialist- Garth Ruff, presented on the topic of feeding wet forages to sheep. Although his current role emphasizes beef systems, Garth has a background in both forage and sheep production. He and his family have first-hand experience in feeding wet forages to their sheep throughout the winter months. Garth reviews the necessary methods for harvesting and preserving wet forages, along with how to safely provide these feeds to small ruminants. With hay harvest right around the corner, now is the time to start considering the use of wet wrapped forages in your operation!

Taking Charge of Baled Silage

Jessica Williamson, Hay and Forage Specialist, AGCO
(Previously published in Progressive Forage: April 2, 2021)

Baled silage, or baleage, is a highly nutritious livestock feed and can help producers better manage their harvest window and harvest their crop at its optimum quality.

Baleage is forage harvested at a higher moisture than dry hay, which is then wrapped in polyurethane plastic to eliminate oxygen so that anaerobic fermentation takes place. This phase converts available sugars to acids, preserving the forage and improving the nutritional value and palatability of the crop.

Silage bales beat dry hay
Silage bales have advantages over dry hay, but best management practices are in order.

First, bale silage at a higher moisture level than dry hay. This accomplishes two goals: Continue reading

Poisonous Plants to Livestock

J.M. Luginbuhl, Extension Specialist (Goats and Forage Systems), North Carolina State University
(Previously published online with NC State Extension: September 17, 2020)

As winter feed supplies run low and with producers eager to turn livestock out to pasture this spring, do yourself and your stock a favor by scouting for poisonous plants in your pasture this spring.

Factors contributing to plant poisoning are starvation, accidental eating, and browsing habits of animals. Starvation is the most common reason. Most woodland or swampy-ground pastures contain many species of poisonous plants. These are usually eaten only when animals have nothing else to eat.

Animals accidentally eat certain plants as they graze. A notable example of this is water hemlock. This plant emerges in wet areas, which are the first to become green in early spring. Animals eager to eat Continue reading

Feed Processing, Digestive Upset, and Observations During Feeding

During the 2020 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium, Dr. Francis Fluharty from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia and Emeritus Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University addressed how to manage your feeding regimen, including feed processing, digestive upset, and observing animal behavior. Dr. Fluharty further discusses which feed sources should to be processed and those that don’t. With the price of corn and hay in the market today, trust me, this 30 minute discussion will be well worth your time. Let the spring feeding begin!

Nutrition and Feeding Systems for Lamb Finishing

Christoph Wand – Beef Cattle, Sheep and Goat Nutritionist/OMAF
(Previously published on Ontario, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs: August, 2014)

The purpose of market lamb feeding is to cost-effectively produce a product of marketable quality and quantity. Keeping this objective in mind will help you make good business and animal management decisions.

The rumen, the largest of the four stomach compartments in ruminant animals, is a fermentation organ, not an acidic stomach. This means digestion depends on the microbes that live inside the rumen. Maintaining the health of this environment is therefore critically important when you are finishing lambs.

Nutrients
Sheep and lambs need several nutrients and nutrient classes for optimum growth. They are listed below in order of importance. Continue reading

2021 Small Ruminant Webinar Series: Nutrition with Dr. Relling – Fiber Sources for Gestating Ewes

In Webinar #2 of the 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, Dr. Alejandro Relling reviews the objectives and methods of an ongoing research project evaluating alternative fiber sources for gestating ewes. For those interested in following the remainder of our 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, be sure to register here.

2021 Small Ruminant Webinar Series: Nutrition with Dr. Relling – Fiber Sources for Growing Lambs

In Webinar #2 of the 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, Dr. Alejandro Relling reviews the objectives and methods of an ongoing research project evaluating alternative fiber sources for growing lambs. As forage prices increase, alternative sources of fiber may be considered for lamb finishing diets as a means to decrease the cost of production. For those interested in following the remainder of our 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, be sure to register here.

Lamb Creep Area Design

In Webinar #1 of the 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, Tim Barnes presented on the development, design, and importance of providing a creep feed area for young lambs and kids. This is an important management tool that can be used to maximize lamb and kid growth. Location, feeder design, entry gate options, and ventilation are considerations for commercial or purebred flocks. For those interested in following the remainder of our 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, be sure to register here.

Colostrum and Milk Management for Newborn Lambs and Kids

In Webinar #1 of the 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, Brady Campbell presented on Small Ruminant Management: Colostrum and Milk. This ten minute segment covers the importance of colostrum for newborns, sourcing and storing colostrum and milk, and choosing appropriate methods of administering aid if young need assistance. For those interested in following the remainder of our 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, be sure to register here.

Critical Nutrition Inputs for Ewe Nutrition

Dr. Dan Morrical, Extension Sheep Specialist, Iowa State University
(Excerpt previously published during the 2017 Virginia Shepherd’s Symposium)

Introduction:
Sheep nutrition and feeding is extremely critical to the success or failure of the ewe flock enterprise. As shepherds our task is to provide balanced rations to meet the ewe’s nutrient requirements on the least costly basis. Feed costs account for half the cost of producing lamb and wool. Therefore, cost control must always be foremost in the shepherd’s mind. Sheep enterprises face a greater challenge in meeting needs of the flock because of the large within flock and between flock variations. This paper reflects the general guidelines for feeding ewes; however, each operation must adapt and modify these guidelines for their specific operation.

Nutrient Requirements:
The amount of nutrients the sheep require is affected by several factors. These include ewe age and weight along with Continue reading

All Hay is Not Created Equal

William ‘Terry’ Halleran, Agronomy Specialist: Hickory County, University of Missouri
(Previously published in Progressive Forage: August 31, 2017)

As producers continue making preparations for winter hay usage, many are looking at possibly purchasing or selling hay crops.

Many times over my past years as an agriculture educator and so-called “expert” in the field, I have been asked, “What do you think my hay is worth?” or “How much should I give for hay this year?” Oftentimes, sight unseen or with very limited information to base my response on, they expect a precise answer. Can’t do it.

Hay is often priced by what your neighbor is selling it for down the road. After all, if their price is cheaper than yours, they will probably make the sale before you. But are the consumers really getting what they paid for?

Let’s begin by asking a few questions and try to guide you down the road to consider Continue reading